New bill to target organised crime bosses

New bill to target organised crime bosses
CRIME: Loan sharks are believed to have set fire to the front of these flats. Even instructing someone to commit an offence will make a person liable under the new Bill.
PHOTO: Shin Min Daily

Singapore's law enforcement agencies are setting their sights on the big fish in the world of organised crime.

These crooks were previously hard to target because they keep their hands clean while their underlings do the dirty work. And some organised crime bosses may be based overseas.

A new Bill introduced in Parliament yesterday will make it easier to target them by criminalising all activities related to organised criminal groups (OCGs).

Even recruiting a person, instructing someone to commit an offence or just being part of an OGC will make a person liable under the Bill.

The Bill will also have extra-territorial coverage to target criminal masterminds working outside of Singapore to cause harm here.

The police and other law agencies can also get Preventive Orders to curb their criminal activities.

For instance, one must now be convicted of certain offences before his assets such as property can be seized.

Under the new Preventive Orders, even if there's no conviction, a person suspected of being involved in an OCG can be prevented from acting as a company director, required to submit details of his finances and have his activities restricted.

And to ensure that ill-gotten gains from organised crime will be controlled, law enforcers can confiscate the assets or benefits without the need of a conviction, as long as a hearing in the High Court can prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the person has carried out organised crime activities.

INVESTIGATIVE

The Bill will also introduce enhanced investigative powers for the police and law enforcement agencies to get information on how much tax a person pays or what his company pays in Goods and Services Tax.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said it had studied the laws and practices of other countries to develop the Bill.

For instance, the police in Perth, Australia, smashed an international drug syndicate after seizing 12kg of Meth with a street value estimated at A$12 million (S$12m). They also seized more than A$400,000 in cash and casino chips.

Two of the four men arrested were from Hong Kong. The others were a Canadian and an Australian, showing how transnational an organised crime group can be.

In New Zealand, the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act states that not only would the criminals be locked up but they would also have to hand over any profits from their crimes.

Since the tough new law took effect on Dec 1, 2009, the police have seized millions of dollars in assets - including properties and money in bank accounts - from criminals.

juditht@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 14, 2015.
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